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Real Estate Trends 2020

built-in shelves in home

Whether you are selling or renovating, keeping up-to-date on the latest home and buying trends in residential real estate will help you make smart updates. Consider these as the market warms up for 2020.


Home theaters used to be reserved for the very wealthy, but now with the many ways to watch movies, stream your favorite shows and catch up on all the latest YouTube sensations, homeowners, more than ever, want a cozy, luxurious space to binge no matter the price point. “It’s really going to materialize in the coming years,” says Rajni Alex of Rajni Alex Design in Bronxville, NY, whose current list of projects includes a home theater room. The latest technology and the most comfortable cozy recliners or sectionals are all must-haves for the space, but new in 2020 is more homeowners opting for flexible seating. For example: “A large u-shaped sectional with perhaps four ottomans pushed together that could serve as a table or be pulled apart to be separate foot rests, and a large flush-mounted TV that can display a piece of art when it is off,” says Helene Barre listing agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich, CT.


Down-sizers and Millennials are expected to be the majority of buyers in 2020. And buyers want less formal, more functional space. “Both are looking for an easy lifestyle,” says Erica Acheychek, a real estate agent for EA Homes at Coldwell Banker in Westport, CT.

Flexibility will be key. Homebuyers no longer want to purchase a home as a status symbol, but rather as a functional space in which to live. “Today’s sophisticated buyers are secure enough to say ‘I’m not going to buy a lifestyle because it’s trendy. I prefer to buy a home that suits my lifestyle— one where my family is comfortable’,” says Barre. Homebuyers are looking for less square footage (5,500 square feet is the magic number) and a more flexible floor plan (for example, a corner of a living room with a banquette for sitting with a friend over coffee or great rooms that work equally well as home offices or teen hang- outs) and multifunctional details. Built-ins are no longer built for books, but rather multimedia showcases for artwork, books, and the television, adds Denise Davies, founder and CEO of D2 Interieurs in Weston, CT.

Homes now need a master upstairs and downstairs. “Younger families want two masters in the house,” says Angela Swift, real estate agent with Compass in Greenwich, CT. First floor masters create flexibility to be a home office or an in-law suite.


Traditional exteriors with modern interiors will continue to be on trend say experts. However, the popular stark minimalist designs of the past few years are waning. People are softening their décor. “It has to have warmth,” says Barre. “If you are selling, you want your home to look clean, pristine and ready for the next buyer to put their stamp on it, but don’t leave it cold. There has to be soul in the house when you walk in.” For those listing their home, that means fresh flowers, organized closets, neutral colors and all the usual decluttering—but leave some family photos, favorite works of art, soft throws and warm muted colors. “What’s old is new again and buyers will appreciate finishes in the homes that are unique and feel special,” says Acheychek, who notes that a blending of styles is on trend. “Lines will remain clean but there will be classic elements and the color palette will move away from gray and into warmer tones.” Tonal rooms where the trim and wall are painted the same color will also be popular this year.

White kitchen
This Riverside, CT listing, with Angela Swift at Compass, has an of-the-moment coffee bar in the kitchen.


In today’s social media-saturated market, buyers want homes that are not only move-in ready but Instagram-worthy. “In order to get the most money for your home put on a fresh coat of paint, have floors redone, have it staged,” says Swift. A renovated kitchen has always been one of the most appealing things for a homebuyer, but today it’s nearly a must. “It is the room where clients spend the most time hands down,” says Davies. Light-colored hardwood floors, waterfall islands, statement marble and lighting, lots of organic elements and coffee bars either in the kitchen or in a butler’s pantry are among the details homeowners will be looking for.

But new for 2020 will be the attention homebuyers give to laundry rooms. “[Homeowners] are looking for a laundry room that is not relegated to a little corner.” Workspace to fold and hang clothes, thoughtful backsplashes, shelving systems and storage are among the elements expected in laundry rooms this year. “That level of organization we were previously using for other rooms we now want in the laundry room,” adds Alex.

Laundry room
Laundry rooms, like this recent update by Rajni Alex Design, are getting lots of attention in 2020.


Fears of recession behind us, a strengthening stock market and prices holding have generated a resurgence of interest from New York City buyers to towns like Westport and Greenwich for both primary and secondary homes. “With housing becoming increasingly less affordable in NYC, buyers will look to escape the high real estate prices, the stresses of city life, and shift the focus to towns with Blue Ribbon school systems and city-like amenities,” says Justine Fink, a partner at The Riverside Realty Group in Westport, CT.

“Old Greenwich and Riverside are so popular to those coming from the city and Brooklyn,” says Swift, who adds New Yorkers love the small-town feel and view of the skyline from Tod’s Point. They want modest yards and to be 10 minutes from a train.

“People have been referring to an uptick in ‘hipsturbia’,” says Acheychek. “It’s so true.”

Listed with Julie Church at Houlihan Lawrence, this Greenwich home has a modest yet lux backyard.

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